Pre-existing tumor-sensitized T cells are essential for eradication of established tumors by IL-12 and cyclophosphamide plus IL-12 JOURNAL OF IMMUNOLOGY Le, H. N., Lee, N. C., Tsung, K., NORTON, J. A. 2001; 167 (12): 6765-6772


The antitumor immune response activated by IL-12, especially by a combination of cyclophosphamide and IL-12 (Cy+IL-12), is clinically significant in certain experimental tumor models, in that a number of well-established (10-20 mm in diameter) s.c. tumors are completely eradicated. Furthermore, Cy+IL-12 treatment is also able to eradicate well-established grossly detectable experimental lung metastases and advanced ascites tumors. Despite the dramatic antitumor effects seen in some tumor models, Cy+IL-12 fails to induce regression of other established tumors. Characterization of tumor immunogenicity shows that all tumors responding to IL-12 and Cy+IL-12 treatments are immunogenic tumors, in that an antitumor immune response is detectable in tumor-bearing hosts upon tumor establishment. In contrast, none of the nonimmunogenic tumor responds to IL-12 and Cy+IL-12 treatments. Analysis of cellular requirements for successful tumor rejection through an adoptive cell transfer approach reveals that the presence of tumor-sensitized, but not naive, T cells is essential for tumor rejection by IL-12 and Cy+IL-12. Transfer of these tumor-sensitized T cells must be conducted before, but not after, IL-12 treatment in order for tumor rejection to occur. The requirement of sensitized T cells is also tumor specific. In mice bearing immunogenic tumors, the presence of pre-existing tumor-sensitized T cells is demonstrated by adoptive cell transfer experiments using purified spleen T cells from these mice. Results from our study show that Cy+IL-12-based immunotherapy of cancer may be highly effective and that pre-existing tumor-sensitized T cells are essential for the success of the therapy.

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